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Free Agent Predictions

I have been following MLBTradeRumors (MLBTR) top 50 free agent predictions for the last several years. For the last several years, I have been keeping track of the FA signings, where they signed, and for how much.    Last year, I stopped counting after 143.

For the Top 50:

  • Signed before winter meetings – 10
  • Signed at the winter meetings – 14
  • Signed after the winter meetings and before year end – 23
  • Signed in 2023 – 3

In addition there were 2 players who would have been in the top 50, but they were extended before the publication, and obviously signed before the winter meetings.

Overall for the 143 I included in my data base:

  • Signed before winter meetings – 21
  • Signed at the winter meetings – 24
  • Signed after the winter meetings and before year end – 52
  • Signed in 2023 – 46

Last year there were a lot of early signings.  This year may be a little different (maybe not).  But I suspect there will be multiple teams that will not sign any significant free agents until Shohei Ohtani is signed.  I think that is also true for many of the free agents themselves.

I have this year’s list already loaded onto an Excel spreadsheet, and am ready to begin.  What is taking the teams so long?  They have had 2 days to sign someone, to get the party started!!!!

I have been reading a lot since the end of the season that leads fans to believe the AF is going hunting for elite pitchers, or at least top of the rotation pitchers.  However, when reading the predictions from various publications, I get the impression that AF will sign Shohei Ohtani and little else.

MLBTR has four writers, but only three participated this year.  One, Steve Adams, had some personal issues and did not provide his “guesses”.  The other three, Tim Dierkes, Anthony Franco, and Darragh McDonald each came up with their predictions independently.  Last year the writers’ successes were as follows:

  • Steve Adams – 10 out of 50
  • Tim Dierkes – 12 out of 50
  • Anthony Franco – 7 out of 50
  • Darragh McDonald – 8 out of 50

Before this week’s GM meetings, when asked how the Dodgers will approach SP, Andrew Friedman responded:

What was once a luxury is now an acute need. That means it’s “reasonable to say” the Dodgers’ aggressiveness in that market “will be more than what it has (been).”

So who do these uber prognosticators think the Dodgers will latch onto.

All three are predicting that Shohei Ohtani will sign with LAD.  Other LAD predictions:

  • Dierkes – Marcus Stroman and Jason Heyward
  • Franco – Sonny Gray
  • McDonald – Blake Snell and Sean Manaea

MLBTR did not include Clayton Kershaw in their list of Top 50.

I am not sure that MLBTR believes the Dodgers will be aggressive in the SP market.

Sports Illustrated was not any more aggressive in their predictions.  They listed:

  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Jordan Montgomery
  • Clayton Kershaw (SI included him)
  • Jason Heyward

MLB.com had their writers polled on the top free agents and their predicted landing spot.

Ohtani was overwhelmingly the consensus pick to sign with LAD.  None of the other top free agents were identified with LAD being the most likely team to sign them.

IMO, this leads me to believe that AF TRULY wants Shohei Ohtani.  In a poll of 14 baseball GMs, the Dodgers were the overwhelming pick.  One GM says that AF is obsessed with the idea of Shohei Ohtani with the Dodgers next year.

But then, nobody is comfortable predicting that the Dodgers will sign another elite FA pitcher after spending ½ billion for Ohtani.

The Dodgers current starting options on the current 40 man:

  • Walker Buehler
  • Bobby Miller
  • Ryan Pepiot
  • Emmet Sheehan
  • Gavin Stone
  • Michael Grove

Next up:

  • Landon Knack
  • Nick Frasso
  • River Ryan
  • Kendall Williams

With that questionable staff, the Dodgers better score 1,100 runs.

Food for thought.  How many more runs will Shohei generate over what JDM did this past year?  JDM had 103 RBI and an .891 OPS.  Shohei had a 1.066 OPS and 95 RBIs and a much less offensive team.  But realistically, how many more runs?

With the loss of Kershaw, Urías, and Gonsolin, the pitching staff is even more suspect.  Especially with the loss of Kershaw and his sparkling 2.46 ERA in 131.2 IP.

Ohtani will cost the Dodgers $1MM in international bonus money, their 2nd and their 5th highest picks in the draft.  For LAD that would be the 2nd and 5th round.  If they pick another free agent pitcher with a qualifying offer, they will then lose their third and 6th highest picks (3rd and 6th round).

Ohtani for $1MM international bonus dollars, and the 2nd and 5th round pick is a no-brainer.  However, there is nothing in AF’s history of FA signing that would give credence to the belief he is willing to lose a 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th round pick.  He might, but based on what evidence?  Because many of you might be willing to lose 4 picks and $1MM international bonus money, that does not mean that AF is willing.

Thus, in my way of thinking, the Dodgers will pass on Snell, Gray, and Nola, and focus on Jordan Montgomery, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Shōta Imanaga.

I have waaaaayyy less insight and waaaaayyy less connections than the major publications, but I am preparing my MLBTR contest picks.  I am nowhere close to finishing, but here are some of the picks I have started with.

  • Shohei Ohtani – LAD
  • Cody Bellinger – NYY
  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto – NYM – Cohen will not be outbid, and Yamamoto wants the Big City stage, and no bigger baseball stage than NY.
  • Blake Snell – Philadelphia (dark horse – Seattle. Loves his Seattle home, can never have enough pitching)
  • Aaron Nola – St. Louis
  • Jordan Montgomery – Texas (AF will be outbid by Chris Young)
  • Matt Chapman – San Francisco (dark horse Arizona)
  • Josh Hader – Texas, if Philadelphia signs Blake Snell. Otherwise Dave Dombrowski will not be outbid for Hader.
  • Sonny Gray – Atlanta (Atlanta has already said they are increasing their payroll).
  • Shōta Imanaga- NYY
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – Detroit – I know he shunned the Dodgers last year, but I am convinced that the Dodgers were not willing to negotiate any additional money in a short window. We know AF likes Rodriguez, and he could come back to entertain Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has said he has NO geographical preferences.
  • Teoscar Hernandez – LAD’s RH hitting LF (I prefer Gurriel Jr., but LAD prefers the slug).
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – Seattle (much better bat to ball skills than Teoscar Hernandez)
  • Jung-Hoo Lee – San Francisco (I know that Padres fans believe he is a no-brainer to them, but they are wrong)
  • Marcus Stroman – Cubs (he has been clear that he wants to stay in Chicago)
  • Jeimer Candelario – Toronto (need to replace Chapman)
  • Lucas Giolito – Baltimore
  • Jack Flaherty – LAD (AF can’t help himself and signs a 1 year reclamation project). He becomes a place holder for his other HS teammate, Max Fried in 2025.
  • Rhys Hopkins – Colorado
  • Jason Heyward – LAD
  • Justin Turner – Cubs

Arizona will sign either Seth Lugo or Kyle Gibson as their #4 pitcher.  Both are also a logical picks for San Francisco.

AF has to determine if his youngsters are better options than Lugo, Gibson, or Michael Wacha.  My guess is that AF prefers his youngsters.

Hector Neris is a logical late inning possibility.  While a longshot, I think they will also kick around the possibility of Jordan Hicks.

Luis Severino has had shoulder problems, TJ surgery and 4 oblique injuries.  He is an injury waiting to happen.  I cannot see the Dodgers offering 1 year at $14MM (MLBTR prediction).  Maybe 1 year at $10MM.

I would not be at all surprised if JDM selected Miami. They have the pitching to contend. They have the $$$ now that Soler has moved on.  He is from the area, and his Cuban roots will be most welcomed. His Fort Lauderdale home is 34 miles from Miami.

If the Dodgers do not sign Ohtani, all options will be available, including Jordan Montgomery and Yoshinobu Yamamoto together.  If no Ohtani, JDM will be the LAD DH in 2024.

Ohtani does not move the biggest need the Dodgers have…Top of the rotation SP.  Can they afford both Ohtani and elite SP.  Maybe.  Will they?  Probably not.  There is nothing in AF’s history that foretells that they are willing to do so.

IMO, Ohtani will be signed, and then most of the changes for 2024 will come via trade.  I am working on some realistic trade possibilities.  Bobby Witt Jr. and Luis Robert Jr. will not be on that list.  But I have some other head scratchers that are more plausible (IMO), but are also very very very much of a longshot.

 

 

 

 

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Oldbear48

I concur with almost all of that. But I have read in several places that the D-Backs are going to make a concerted effort to sign Justin Turner. With Longoria moving on, it makes a lot of sense. Veteran with a winning pedigree and a great locker room presence. I have also read in multiple places about the Dodgers interest in Teoscar Hernandez. What I dislike about him is his high strikeout rate and lack of walks. 211-38. Way too much discrepancy there.

Bumsrap

On a warm day game the breeze generated by Muncy, Taylor, and Teoscar Hernandez could be welcome.

Oldbear48

Ron Washington is hired to manage the Angels. He is 71 and this is his first MLB managerial job since 2014. He last managed the Rangers. Wash got a 2-year deal.

Jeff

Well, who wouldn’t want Ohtani on their team? C’mon, guys. It’s not your money so who cares how much they’ll have to pay. Just get him.

The two contracts that I would like to see gone are Treinen @$8M,and Barnes @$3.5M. Treinen is an anchor they don’t need and Barnes doesn’t belong on this roster especially if Kershaw leaves. Time for a change, fellas.

How much will the Dodgers need to pay Jason Heyward? Did he really do all that much for us? I don’t remember him as a clutch player. If we are letting Peralta and Kike go, they will need some backup for the OF. Outman, Taylor, and Mookie are in, but our farm hands show little hope at the MLB level. Need to sign at least one FA or a trade or two.

We’ve got a plethora of young arms for the future. A nice problem to have. This coming season will be big for some of these youngsters. Let’s hope AF doesn’t trade away any future star unless we are trading for a star.

I don’t see much of a drop off happening next season. We should still be headed to the playoffs. If not, AF will be headed out of town.

Oldbear48

Treinen’s option is for 1 million. Not 8. And if he is healthy, he is worth every penny. As for Barnes, I doubt they just cut the guy. Heyward did a great job. You must not have been watching much. Because not only was his defense stellar, he had a lot of clutch hits. MLBTR says the Dodgers have interest in Teoscar Hernandez. He is a RH hitter with some pop. He also strikes out WAY TOO MUCH, 211 times, and rarely walks, 38. But he has decent defensive skills and can play all three outfield positions. The only rookie close to being MLB ready who plays the outfield is Deluca. By the way, the Dodgers had two 1-0 wins last year. Barnes drove in the run in both of them. One was on an 8th inning homer at Dodger Stadium. I think if they do not sign another RH hitting outfielder in free agency, they might trade for one since there are so many out there. I would love to see them get Lane Thomas from the Nats. He kills lefties.

Last edited 6 months ago by Oldbear48
Jeff

You are correct about Treinen @$1M. His former salary was $8M wasted on the IL. Don’t know about Hernandez.

Dionysus

I follow the Cubs a bit and Strohman is gone. I’d welcome him here. He plays with heart.

Bumsrap

But you recently questioned why I preferred Flaherty over Stroman.

Dionysus

I don’t know. Just speculating. Fits bill of #2/#3 starter.

Dionysus

Realistically, I think we need:

1. A big bat to go with Betts/Freeman. Ohtani fits the bill.

2. A top-of-rotation workhorse. NOLA is an example.

3. A starting corner OF. Teoscar works.

4. Another veteran SP.

5. Decide on Betts as 2B or RF.

tedraymond

Addresses their biggest needs. My suggestions would be:

  1. Agreed. No brainer. Not my money. But realistically, for $500M it might the worst financial decision AF will make. I liked Jeff’s thought of JDM having more RBI’s than Ohtani last season. Plus, a ? on how well Ohtani will hit after rehab from arm surgery in 2024. Too many question marks.
  2. Agreed. Nola is, easily, the workhorse of the FA starters this year. Does AF want to pay up?
  3. As Bear says that he strikes out way too much. I prefer Gurriel for LF for $15M or so. Strikeout rate of 18%, 20+ HR, and plus fielder in the OF.
  4. Agreed. Plus, another project starter – Wacha, Flaherty, or Giolito.
  5. I’d go with Betts at 2B. Agree with Bear on resigning Heyward (2yrs $16M?). Platoon him with Deluca and see what the young guy can do.
tedraymond

Dionysus, the numbers disappeared after went through the edit process. I was responding to each of your five points.

Dionysus

Gotcha

Melvin

I like it

Badger

I’m jealous. I don’t have a baseball database. Maybe I can get one for Christmas.

The experts don’t appear to be very good at guessing. How does one go about getting a job like that? I could predict the Dodgers will get Ohtani, Snell, Gray, Heyward and Lee and probably be as good at guessing as they are.

If the Dodgers are going for reclamation arm, I say the local guy Giolito.

I predict a trade. How’s that for a November guess?

I wonder how productive RF would be with Heyward and Deluca?

I’m with Bear on Hernandez. 211 Ks with a.740 OPS doesn’t work in LA. Can Busch play LF without striking out 211 times?

I will not guess today, I will postulate. To guess sounds prosaic. To postulate is erudite. The Dodgers will sign Ohtani and a fixer upper arm, and trade for a bat. Is that all they will do? I guess so. How would I know? I don’t have a database.

Last edited 6 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

Do you even have a firstbase?

tedraymond

Maybe, with a click of a mouse you might be able to get one….Jeff?

All these “experts” having failing grades. It’s fun to read, but who really cares.
Jim Bowden is the worst. Kind of like NFL mock drafts. Our Jeff D has better insight. I can’t believe these guys get paid for the stuff they write.

Badger

I don’t have a mouse. The computer in the office is a fine Mac but I never use it. That’s the wife’s toy. I’m on my IPad mini out in my recliner doing this baseball business.

I agree Jeff is as good at this as anybody, that’s why I’m here. I have the LATimes, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Athletic. and LADodger Chronicles. That’s plenty of words for me. I can follow the Dodgers and Rams on local tv. I know what I am looking at in those two sports so I’d like to think I can speak knowledgeably on both.

I have said for weeks now I believe Ohtani is the Dodgers target and I believe they won’t miss this time. The lineup with him in it, and maybe one outfield pickup, Gurriel works, would be solid. Maybe re-sign Heyward, develop Deluca, Vargas, Busch for now, or trade them. Find pitching wherever and however and this team is ready to go.

Yeah, a pitching ace would be great, but it’s also possible to win without a $40 million dollar pitcher. None of those that are have been worth it my estimation, except maybe Verlander but he’s 60 year old and not coming here. With our lineup I’d be happy with 5 inning eating #3’s.

I doubt anything happens til Ohtani signs. Once he does it will all happen fast. In the meantime we continue to wait, watch, and wonder. How will winter end and Spring begin?

Badger

Dodger ‘24 projections:

Betts 5 WAR
Freeman 5 WAR
Ohtani 5 WAR
Smith 4 WAR
Outman 3 WAR
3rd base 2 WAR
Right Field 3 WAR
Lux SS 2 WAR
Left Field 2 WAR
bench 2 WAR (some of the bench is included in platoons above)

State college level educated postulates all.

A replacement level team has 52 wins, according to something I read somewhere some time ago. The some of all parts. The above gives us 52 plus 33. 85 wins. If the pitching staff, the other half of the team, can give us 15 WAR we win 100 again.

I think we can do better.

Last edited 6 months ago by Badger
OhioDodger

What about Yuki Matsui?

OhioDodger

Thanks Jeff. Probably won’t cost much. Maybe the Dodgers should take a look at bringing Ryu back.

Oldbear48

Pitched in 11 games in the last two years. No thanks.

Farhan Friedman

Why is there not more talk of Mookie being the everyday SS and putting Lux back at 2nd? I think Lux in center should be an option too. Move Outman to left.

Oldbear48

The talk is about Mookie playing second more and picking up a corner outfielder. The Dodgers absolutely believe if Lux is healthy, he can handle SS. Be honest, the kid has never really had a full time shot and he is young, just 25.

OhioDodger

We could probably get all three Japanese pitchers, Yuki Matsui, Shota Imanaga, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, for what Ohtani will cost.

Bluto

I read somewhere that Japanese players prefer not to play on a team with multiple other Japanese players.

Badger

Yeah, you read it here. In particular Japanese stars.

Melvin

I like it

Dodgerrick

The Dodgers need starting pitching, but they are risk averse and haven’t signed an SP for more than 3 years except for Brandon McCarthy in the Friedman era. I doubt seriously that they will sign the likes of Blake Snell to the kind of contract that it will take.

I believe that they will sign a reclamation project or 2 (maybe Giolito?) but that they will make the most important additions to their rotation by trade. We’ve all heard the possible names (Glasnow, Burnes, Cease), and there are probably some that no one has thought about yet, but they can get a high end, cost-controlled pitcher for a year or 2 with much less risk or expense that way.

Oldbear48

Maeda is the only one to sign for more than 4 years, and his base salary over those 8 years was 25 million. The rest was all incentives. I repeat, in 8 years in the majors Snell has had exactly 2 good ones. He has been a 5-inning pitcher his entire career. He is inconsistent and he walks way too many hitters. And the death knell on Snell is his agent. Boras is going to ask for the moon.

Bluto

Agree with this do I.

Bumsrap

I look forward to Jeff’s head scratchers that are also very very very much of a longshot. We all have said it is hard to guess what will happen and that conjecturing is fun. Conjecture — an opinion or judgment based on little or no evidence.

If we are brainstorming then everything gets thrown against the wall.

Moving on– will Ohtani’s signing wind up like Correa’s last year with the physical being the sand in the gears? One thing that seems evident is that the Dodgers will look quite different based on whether Ohtani is or is not signed.

I like a rotation of Buehler, Miller, Pepiot, Sheehan, Grove, and Stone especially if one or two spots are piggybacked. Could it be better? Maybe not but it could be less risky if two proven pitchers are added. Therefore, I am okay if Ohtani is signed without adding quality proven expensive pitchers.

I like Flaherty on a one year contract.

Looks like I am going to have to watch Muncy play third again.

When the Dodgers trade for Witt many here should have crow for dinner–fried.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bumsrap
Dionysus

Matt Chapman for the defense?

RC Dodger

I hope Friedman can negotiate a high AAV short term deal for Ohtani instead of committing $500 million or more to him.
Ohtani is a unicorn as a two way player but to me Buehler is a much better pitching bet than Ohtani. Both are recovering from their second TJ but Buehler is younger, homegrown, has already thrown rehab starts, has a better career ERA and is a proven post season pitcher. Ohtani is a huge wild card as a pitcher and no DH is worth close to $400 million. Maybe from a business standpoint Ohtani makes sense, but not as a baseball player for that long term money.

Badger

I look for both to pitch and pitch well, but only if they are given proper recovery time. It’s time for a 6 man rotation, with extra days rest from the mid season break to the playoffs.

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